Chelsea - Aston Villa Preview: Benitez looking for response after Club World Cup disappointment

The Blues lost to Corinthians to miss out on being crowned the world club champions, but are hoping to get their domestic hopes back on track against the in-form Villans


Ivanovic, Cahill, Luiz, Cole
 Mikel, Ramires
Moses, Mata, Hazard


Lowton, Baker, Lichaj, Clark
Ireland, Westwood, Holman, Bannan

Gary Cahill, John Obi Mikel and Ramires are all available for Chelsea after returning from suspension, and will likely take up places in the starting XI for Rafa Benitez's side.

John Terry (knee) is back in training but has no return date yet, with Benitez unsure if the captain will be fit for any festive fixtures. Daniel Sturridge may miss out again, while Oriol Romeu (knee) is out until at least next June with a serious injury.

Gabriel Agbonlahor (thigh) should be fit in time to feature for Villa at Stamford Bridge, and Stephen Ireland is set to return to the first team after missing the win over Liverpool through illness.

However, Villa have a number of other players battling to be fit for Sunday's clash - Darren Bent (knee), Richard Dunne (groin), Ron Vlaar (calf) and Stiliyan Petrov (leukaemia) have no return dates as yet, while midfielder Craig Gardner (knee) is out until May.

  • Chelsea's 7-1 victory over Aston Villa in 2010 was the Villans' biggest ever Premier League defeat.
  • Aston Villa have only won once in their last 10 visits to Stamford Bridge, but that win came last season as the Villans claimed a surprise 3-1 victory.
  • Rafael Benitez has only lost once in 12 matches against Aston Villa as a Premier League manager, winning seven and drawing four.
  • Juan Mata (pictured, right) has scored four goals in his last five games in all competitions for Chelsea.
  • The Blues have used 20 players in the Premier League this season, fewer than any other side in the division.
  • Andreas Weimann has scored five goals in his last six games for Villa in all competitions.
  • No other referee has given more penalties (five) this season than Phil Dowd, who will officiate the game on Sunday.
  • Chelsea's Eden Hazard has 22 assists since the beginning of the 2011-12 season - more than any other player in the top five European leagues.